Climate change
April 10, 2019

Meatless Monday might not be your only way to save the planet.

Livestock industries create 14.5 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, one of the major driving factors for continuing climate change, so environmental advocates have long suggested cutting down on the amount of meat you eat as a way to mitigate the effects of climate change. But a new study shows that you might not have to give up on meat at all, Carbon Brief reported. Instead, you could try changing the type of meat you consume.

While meat products are popular among people worldwide, certain parts of livestock animals are often passed over. The new study, published on Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, shows that choosing those less popular parts of the animals, known as offal, can still help cut down on your carbon footprint.

The study took a look at the implications of various diet changes in Germany's population, finding that while halving the amount of meat consumed could cut the country's livestock emissions by 32 percent, even just eating these meat by-products like liver and tripe could still cut emissions by 14 percent.

Germany is the European Union's largest meat producer, so it's reasonable to think this study's findings could apply to other countries, too. Pursuing a combination of eating less meat and reducing meat waste could potentially cut the livestock industry's emissions by 43 percent.

Read more about this study at Carbon Brief. Shivani Ishwar

April 2, 2019

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell said Tuesday it's leaving the U.S. lobbying organization American Fuel & Petroleum Manufacturers (AFPM) because a review of Shell's industry ties uncovered "material misalignment on climate-related policy positions with this association." Among the disagreements cited was AFPM's lack of "stated support for the goal of the Paris Agreement," which Shell backs, and approval of President Trump's efforts to roll back auto mileage standards.

"The rupture signals how Shell and some other oil giants, largely headquartered in Europe, are moving more aggressively on climate than the petroleum industry as a whole," Axios explains. But of the 19 trade group memberships Shell reviewed, under a deal reached in December with green activist investors, the oil giant severed ties only with AFPM. Shell found "some misalignment" on climate policy with the top U.S. oil lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but it pledged only to "continue to engage further with these industry associations to promote climate-related policies that support the goal of the Paris Agreement." Peter Weber

February 24, 2019

Three senior Trump administration officials told The Washington Post the White House is planning on creating a working group comprised of specific federal scientists who will counter that the burning of fossil fuels is bad for the planet.

These are people who are skeptical about climate change and the impact humanity has on global warming, the officials said. The scientific consensus is that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving global warming, and if something isn't done to curb them, the planet won't be able to recover. This is an initiative of the National Security Council, and the group would not be subject to public records requests or have a representative membership, the Post reports. Catherine Garcia

February 1, 2019

The U.S. has been hit by a polar vortex. Australia is experiencing the polar opposite.

The Midwest is currently pulling out of a deadly cold week, where Chicago dropped to a low of 23 degrees below zero and Minnesota saw 77 degrees below zero with wind chill. Meanwhile, southern Australia has reached a record-breaking 121 degrees Fahrenheit, and things are only expected to get worse. That all makes for an incredibly dramatic contrast on the Dark Sky weather app, as posted by astrophysicist Grant Tremblay.

At least 21 deaths have been reported due to the cold weather, which can induce hypothermia and frostbite in minutes, per HuffPost. Temperatures largely broke their subzero streak Friday, and are expected to spike into the 40s over the weekend in Chicago.

Yet in Australia, the government started Friday with a warning that Melbourne "could see its hottest day in ten years." Months of excruciating heat has killed horses and millions of fish, and is estimated to have wiped out a third of the continent's bats. Things aren't expected to cool until Monday, and no human deaths have been reported yet.

And yes, this extreme weather is likely stemming from human-made climate change. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 18, 2018

The Trump administration tried once again on Thursday to get the Supreme Court to toss a lawsuit on climate change, filed by 21 activists between the ages of 11 and 22.

The plaintiffs allege that federal officials are not doing enough to curb carbon pollution, thus violating their rights to due process under the Constitution. The activists are calling for major reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

They first filed the lawsuit in 2015 against former President Barack Obama and government agencies, and Obama's administration also tried to get the suit thrown out. In July, the Supreme Court said it was too premature for the Trump administration to attempt to stop the lawsuit, and on Monday, federal Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene, Oregon, ruled that the case can go forward to trial on Oct. 29 unless the Supreme Court or 9th Circuit Court of Appeals intervene. Catherine Garcia

September 28, 2018

The Earth is already ruined, so why bother trying to save it?

The Trump administration released a report characterizing climate change as a lost cause, arguing that aggressive steps to curb rising global temperatures aren't necessary since they won't halt catastrophic damage anyway, The Washington Post reported Friday. An environmental impact statement for a decision to freeze fuel efficiency standards predicted that we are currently on track for a 7-degree increase in average global temperatures by the end of the century.

An increase of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 4 degrees Celsius, would bring devastating and deadly consequences to most of the world. So if that's our fate, argues the report, what's the point in trying to fight it? It would be much more fun to go out with a fossil-fueled bang, since increasing greenhouse gas emissions slightly would only make a tiny difference in our inevitable heat-induced deaths, the statement suggests.

Governments would need to take drastic measures to sufficiently decrease carbon emissions, which "would require the economy and the vehicle fleet to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible," reads the report.

"The amazing thing they're saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society," scientist Michael MacCracken told the Post. "And then they're saying they're not going to do anything about it." Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza

September 27, 2018

A United Nations report published Thursday found that the world is "nowhere near on track" to meet goals in reducing the effects of climate change, reports The Guardian.

World governments committed to taking steps that would keep global warming in check, determining that 1.5 degrees Celsius on average is the maximum temperature increase the world can sustain before melting ice caps and deadly heatwaves bring catastrophic change to much of the globe. But "we are moving way too slowly" to avoid surpassing that limit, said Ola Elvestuen, Norway's environment minister.

The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that governments need to drastically decrease their greenhouse gas emissions. A co-author of the report, Drew Shindell, said eliminating fossil fuels like coal and quickly transitioning to solar or wind energy would help — but world leaders are way behind schedule. "While it's technically possible, it's extremely improbable, absent a real sea change in the way we evaluate risk," said Shindell. "We are nowhere near that."

Other world leaders told The Guardian that President Trump's embrace of "clean coal" and decision to exit the Paris climate agreement has made things harder on everyone. "It's a lot more difficult without the U.S. as a leader in climate change negotiations," said Elvestuen. "We have to find solutions even though the U.S. isn't there." But the president of the Marshall Islands, Hilde Heine, says other nations should follow in their footsteps and commit to zero emissions by 2050. "If we can do it," she said, "so can everyone else." Read more at The Guardian. Summer Meza

September 10, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency could announce as early as this week its plan to roll back Obama-era regulations requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and repair methane leaks, The New York Times reports.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, and it often escapes into the atmosphere from leaky oil and gas wells. The Times reviewed documents showing that the EPA will propose weakening the requirements that oil and gas drillers perform leak inspections every six months and repair any leaks detected within 30 days, making it so they only have to inspect pipes and wells every one or two years and make repairs within 60 days. The proposal also lets energy companies follow state methane standards rather than federal rules.

If this proposal is implemented, the Times reports, oil and gas companies would recoup nearly all the costs that would have been imposed by the Obama-era rule, estimated at $530 million by 2025, and save $484 million by the same year. Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, told the Times that the Obama-era regulation "was the definition of red tape," and "it all depends on who you trust. That administration trusted environmentalists. This one trusts industry." Catherine Garcia

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